Food Focus : Mushy for Peas

Courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (August 2019)

Peas

The bright garden hue and punchy sweet flavour of garden peas win favours with even the most veg-phobic people.  Indeed, peas will happily be consumed and even relished when other veggies fail to make the cut.  Fresh green peas invoke a sense of cheeriness in their appearance and within the pod there is much to rave about.

Garden peas are part of the legume family, which means they have some of the same benefits as green beans.  They provide a decent serving of plant-based protein, as well as fibre, which helps support energy, blood sugar levels and gut health.  Peas are also bursting with vitamins C and A – important for immunity and skin as well as providing protective antioxidant benefits.  They contain vitamin K and B vitamins that can support a healthy heart and, since they are a good source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, they also have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Peas are considered environmentally friendly, given that they essentially give back to the soil in which they are grown, which helps with the rotation of other crops.  Impressive nutritional stats and generous, given their small, or petits, size.

Peas are encased in pods and need to be shelled before eating and, while best fresh, frozen peas can also be enjoyed in which case I urge you to have petits pois for more flavour and less starch.  When peas are in season, from late spring to the end of autumn, you can often find them at farmers’ markets.

The ways in which to enjoy peas are myriad and marvellous.  Simply prepared – lightly steamed and served with fresh mint, butter and black pepper – peas are a game-changing veggie side dish.  Add them to an omelette with feta for a delicious quick meal or chuck them into stir-fries for a pop of sweetness.  You can even turn them into fun and flavoursome desserts.  (Pea mousse, anyone?)  Like peas in a pod, the saying goes …. I, for one, want to be in that gang!

Cook:
If cooking, your peas from frozen, opt for petits pois and add at the last moment – frozen peas thaw quickly and you will want to maximise their delicious flavour in your dish.

Create:
Poisfection!   There is a recipe for Pea and Mint Ice Lollies with Chocolate from The Art of Eating Well by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley. Everyone will be licking their lips!

Drink:
Try: Seedlip Garden 108 Non-alcoholic Spirit, which highlights hand-picked peas as one of the key ingredients. Serve with tonic for a refreshing and uplifting summer drink.

Article by Nutrition editor: Eve Kalinik evekalinik.com; @evekalinik

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